Friday, July 8, 2011

Morning at Windham Acres


I woke up at 6 a.m., which is rare for a retiree, but Larry was supposed to play golf at 7. His buddies called at 6 to cancel because of the storms. I couldn't go back to sleep, and now I'm glad I didn't.

I was making breakfast when I glanced out the kitchen window and saw this beautiful hawk sitting on our fence. There was a little bit of sun shining on his feathers when I first saw him that made him look like copper. By the time I got the camera and set it, the sun had gone back behind the clouds. I eased into my studio, which has sliding glass doors so I wouldn't have to shoot through a window screen. I barely got this shot when the mockingbird you can barely see at left of the hawk, attacked and chased him away. She must have had a nest nearby and was protecting her babies. The birdhouse on the left has three baby bluebirds, and mama bluebird was watching as well.

Our property goes back into the woods visible in the photo for about 250 yards. We usually mow the pasture area between the fence and the woods, but Larry decided to let it grow this year in hopes of attracting more wildlife. We have seen lots of deer at the wood's edge as well as quail. I could live without the raccoons and possum, which come for dinner with Pete and Sam on a regular basis, but that's part of country living.

My Morning Glories are finally blooming and are a beautiful blue/purple color. Sounds like another digital SB page to me!

Now, go hug someone you love!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My First Gardenia

I have loved Gardenias since I was a child. My Granny had a big Gardenia bush in her front yard, and my sister and would wait impatiently every summer for the waxy blooms to appear. I thought that bush was six feet tall, but know now that it was because I was less than four feet tall at the time.



The scent of Gardenias is a heavy, heady aroma, and just a tiny whiff transports me back to the '50s to 291 Oklahoma in South Memphis.

I have tried to grow Gardenias several times with no luck. I planted this bush last spring, watered patiently, watched incessantly, but no blooms.

This bush is planted just outside our fence in the side yard. I have always watered it from the backside of the fence, which is the reason I didn't even see the bud for this bloom. I was so happily surprised to discover it yesterday!

Of course I had to make a digital page about it for my Summer of 2011 book. Here's how I did it:

Supplies
photo
Duetica Lettering Arts Studio Software, Font: Mandolyn (www.duetica.com)
Adobe Photoshop CS5 (www.adobe.com)

Directions
1. Open your photo and a new document in Photoshop. Select your palette from your photo's colors and make a sample of each color in the blank document.
2. Open a new 12 X 12 document. This will be your layout file. Select one color and fill the background. Make this layer about 40 percent opacity.
3. Select a 11 3/4" x 11 3/4" square in a second layer. Fill with another color and make the opacity about 40 percent opacity.
4. Copy a square portion of your photo and paste it into a new 12" x 2" file. Keep pasting until you have a bar the width of your page. Flatten the image, select all and apply a watercolor effect. Copy and paste into your layout.
5. Place your photo into the layout and create a white border around it's edges.
6. Create Gardenia in the Duetica Lettering Arts Studio. Change the color to an off white. Copy and paste into you layout.

Note: If you want a custom color for the title, wait until you open it in Photoshop and apply a new color there.

7. In the Duetica Gardenia file, select all of the letters and change the color to a dull green. Make the opacity 35 percent, then copy and paste it into your layout to create the shadow.
8. Type My First, make it the same color as the gardenia type and tuck it into the space between the G and the D.
9. Draw a rectangle for your journaling block and fill with a color of your choice. Use the eraser tool set at 35 percent opacity to wipe out the edges of the block. Insert your journaling.
10. Finish by adding some white and green lines to border the entire layout.

That's it. I now have the first Gardenia I have ever grown all by myself recorded for the ages.

Now, go hug your Granny and be thankful for all she has taught you to appreciate. Wish I could hug mine!

Monday, July 4, 2011

God Bless America!

I am so thankful to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and to be a descendant of men who loved their country enough to risk their lives. My father, Jack Cofer, and his brothers, James, Mitchell, Frank and Earl, were all in the military. Earl, the youngest, paid the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. He was a career soldier and loved the military life. They are all descendants of a Revolutionary War soldier.


Larry's Aunt Wille was also a soldier, packing parachutes at Ft. Oglethorp during WWII.

Today, I salute all the men and women who serve our country in the military. Many of them are far from home this Independence day, but you know they are thinking of the wonderful celebration we are having here in the USA.




Every time I see a man or woman in military clothing, I make sure to thank them for their service. It's not much, but their sacrifice makes my freedom possible, and I am eternally grateful.

Now, go hug a soldier!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Designer Crafts Connection

Although I'm not participating in this blog hop for July, be sure to hop forward or backward using the Designer Crafts Connection button at left. You can see some gorgeous creations by a really talented group of designers and register to win a great prize package.
Good Luck!

Presto, Pesto!


Several weeks ago, I started some Basil seeds indoors, thinking that they probably wouldn't germinate since they were packed for 2007. Boy, was I wrong! I had Basil running out my ears. I gave away a lot of it, but still have six pots on my deck, with four plants in each pot.

My problem was that I knew I could flavor vinegar with it and use it in salads, but I had waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. My dear friend Jan Stone suggested I make pesto. I had never had pesto but searched the internet for a quick and easy recipe. This is the one I used:

Fresh Basil Pesto

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
• 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
• 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• Special equipment needed: A food processor

NOTE: I found another recipe that said to chop everything by hand to really be able to separate all the wonderful flavors .


1. Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

2. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.

Yield: Makes 1 cup.


Now, here's the recipe for the digital page layout:

Supplies
Duetica Lettering Arts Studio (Available at www.duetica.com)
Computer
Photo Program (I used Adobe Photoshop CS5)

1. Open your photo and size it so that it fills a little over 1/2 of your planned page layout.

2. Open a second file for your layout. Use the eyedropper tool to select colors for three layers and add them with a 1/4" margin all around. Make sure the top layer is a light color.

3. To mimic the pasta design, I added thin lines in a rusty brown color, which was selected from the photo. I started drawing lines individually and when I had about ten, I flattened the layer, selected the drawn lines plus the light background and pasted enough to fill to the other side of the page.

4. Flatten the layers again and select a new square with a 1/4" margin all around. Select inverse, then add a brown shadow all around, using the paintbrush tool and setting the opacity to 40 percent.

5. Place the photo in your layout. Create two surrounding layers, 1/4" apart.

6. Create the headline and subhead using Duetica Lettering Arts Studio's Tin Whistle font. Save it and create a png. file

7. Open the headline and subhead in Photoshop and change the color to match colors in your photo.

8. Copy the headline and paste it into a new file, making the opacity 50 percent. Save it as a png. file.

9. Place the 50 percent headline on your page with the bottom overlapping the photo a little. Place the full headline over this and move it about 1/4" up to make the shadow more pronounced. Place the subhead at the lower right of the page.

10. Draw a rectangle for your journaling and set the opacity at 35 percent. Draw another rectangle, about 1/4" smaller all around, and paint it the light color of the top background layer.

11. Set your journaling type and you're done.

Note: I have been told that the pesto can be made and frozen in ice cube trays, then packed in freezer bags.

Now, go make some pesto and enjoy it with someone you love, even if it's just you.

Have a safe and happy Independence Day and praise God that we live in a country that is free.